Planning Some Renovation on Your Rental Property? Be Ready to Comply With EPA Lead Paint Regulations

Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint, which can be harmful to adults and children.

As owners of a relatively small number of rental properties, it may be tempting to think that we are exempt from the regulations that apply to people who own real estate empires. We can just wander into our rental homes, hammer in hand, and do our little renovation projects, right? We are, after all, captains of our own ship, and masters of our own destiny.

Hold on there, Sherlock, EPA begs to differ.

Get certified or get out of Dodge

Property owners who renovate, repair, or prepare surfaces for painting in pre-1978 rental housing or space rented by child-care facilities must, before beginning work, provide tenants with a copy of EPA’s lead hazard information pamphlet “Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools.” Owners of these rental properties must document compliance with this requirement. EPA has a sample “pre-renovation disclosure form” to guide you.

As of April 22, 2010, property owners who perform these projects in pre-1978 rental housing or space rented by child-care facilities must be certified and must follow the lead-safe work practices required by EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Remodeling rule. To become certified, property owners must submit an “application for firm certification” and fee payment to EPA. The Agency has up to 90 days after receiving a complete request for certification to approve or disapprove the application.

Steps to take before beginning a project

Property owners who perform renovation, repairs, and painting jobs in rental property should:

1. Take training to learn how to perform lead-safe work practices.
2. Learn the lead laws that apply to you regarding certification and lead-safe work practices.
3. Keep records to demonstrate that you and your workers have been trained in lead-safe work practices and that you follow lead-safe work practices on the job. To make recordkeeping easier, you may use the “sample recordkeeping checklist” that EPA has developed to help contractors comply with the renovation recordkeeping requirements.
4. Read about how to comply with EPA’s rule in the “EPA Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right.”
5. Read about how to use lead-safe work practices in EPA’s “Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting.”

Do the new rules apply to my project?

The rule must be followed when “repair or maintenance activities disturb more than 6 square feet of paint per room inside, or more than 20 square feet on the exterior of a home or building.” Renovation is defined as any activity that disturbs painted surfaces and includes most repair, remodeling, and maintenance activities, including window replacement.

What is my motivation to comply?

Fines for violating rule requirements can be up to $37,500 per incident, per day.

What if I hire a contractor?

If you have the work performed by an outside contractor, you should make sure that contractor has the proper training/certification.

You can verify that a contractor is certified by checking EPA’s website at or by calling the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323). You can also ask to see a copy of the contractor’s firm certification.

Realtors, and property managers are all also affected by these EPA regulations.

For more information, see the EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting site

Due Diligence and Property Inspection, Part 9: Qualifying the Inspectors

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2 Responses to “Planning Some Renovation on Your Rental Property? Be Ready to Comply With EPA Lead Paint Regulations”

  1. […] 5 Things That You Should Consider Before Fixing Up Your Rental Properties Posted by: mandy | Category: Real Estate Investing, Rehabbing Houses […]

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